Actually, It’s everything I want to say to divorced or divorcing parents summed up in one title. Why divorced parents? Well, mostly because I know them. Whether it was their children’s marriage that ended, their parent’s marriage that ended, or their own marriage that ended, families who have been through a divorce have experienced some kind of feelings of failure.
My own parents divorced when I was in eighth grade. I have seen first hand how they processed the end of a twenty-two-year marriage.
As an eighth, ninth, and tenth grader, I did my best to capitalize on their failures. (I was a teenager). Most teenagers say mean things to a parent at one time or another. Divorce only gave me more ammunition and made my parents much more vulnerable to my attacks. But as an adult looking back, there are many things I want to say to my own parents and other parents who may be where we were. Mostly it would sound something like this:
At the most vulnerable time in your life, I saw the exposed places, and I cut deep.
I needed . . .
someone to blame,
someone to hurt,
and someone to care.
Mostly, I think I needed you to care. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was mad. But I wanted to you care that I was mad. I needed you to notice.
Fortunately for both of us, there were other people who knew me in that season of life who probably stepped in to save us both. How could we help each other when we were both hurting? How could you have done any more than you did when your world was also turned upside down?
But none of those people are still in my life now in the way you are. The friends, the boyfriend, the other parents who reached in and played a critical role in giving me a place to belong and a solid foundation when everything else felt like it was falling apart—their influence was for a season. I will love them forever because of what they did for me, but they weren’t there when my children were born. They won’t celebrate my kids’ birthdays. They aren’t the ones who helped pack boxes when it was time to move to a new house.
Even when things were hardest:
I hated you some days, but that didn’t mean I loved you less.
I pushed you away, but I didn’t want you to go far.
I grew up a little faster, but I still wasn’t grown up.
And not being my dad’s wife didn’t make you any less my mom.”
For any parent, the end of a marriage can feel like the end of many things. But it isn’t the end of parenting. When life happens, and it doesn’t happen the way you planned, it hurts. And sometimes it hurts for a long time. But you have never been and will never be disqualified. As uneven as the road has been for my own family, I’m grateful for parents who have pushed through with me—even when it was hardest. It has made all the difference.